First off, my apologies for going two months with no posts! I’ll blame finishing my second college degree while working two jobs =).
Now, to the topic at hand: Editing and Critique Partners.
When I first started writing as a child, I think my mom read over my stuff for glaring errors and we called it good. Hey, it got me first place and $5 in the church essay contest in second grade! =) But over the years, of course, I’ve sought out tougher opinions of my work. It wasn’t until I joined http://www.agentqueryconnect.com that I became aware of critique partners or that I would want or need one. I worked on my initial book, the one I planned to query first, on my own. I had some friends read bits and pieces, but they were all busy and didn’t have time to dedicate to my writing. That’s completely understandable and I don’t hold that against them.
Then I learned about critique partners. Then, that first book bombed to the point I shelved it until further notice. I started editing/re-writing my other series, my LGBT series that’s set in small town Iowa. I felt it was ready, so did the query critiques, etc., and then sent out some tests. I got a partial right away and was so delighted! But, it got rejected. So, back to the drawing board I went. I used various fora on AQC to get critiques and overall, it was decided that my opening sucked.
So, I sought out a critique partner. We traded chapters until both books were polished. I worked hard on the suggestions and tried again.
So, I’m going to seek out another CP in the future. Currently, I’ve done some page and chapter swaps to tighten things. Most recently, I did a three chapter swap and got some great suggestions. I’m still tweaking the opening, but every time I get eyes on it, something comes from it that’s helpful.
The point of all this rambling is that you can never have too many eyes on your work. Of course, at some point, you have to decide for yourself if any further suggestions will help or hurt. And you don’t have to take all the suggestions you get. Consider them carefully, but make sure you maintain your voice. Either way, try to find objective eyes for your work. It helps if the person hasn’t read your work yet, so they’re 100% objective. By all means, give them a short synopsis, but let them see the work with fresh eyes.
Once you’ve had a CP and worked hard, get another one. Eventually, you’ll want a beta reader. This is one step I skipped and I think it’s time to rectify that. Having objective eyes can help you see if that polished draft really is ready or not. And remember: your ms might be 100% ready and still tank in the slush. It’s so cliche, but it’s so true: this business is subjective. Not everyone is going to love your story. But if you get a CP and a beta, you’re on the right path.